Joe Biden called out Donald Trump for working to scuttle a bill to address national security and the border, even though it was negotiated over months by both parties in the Senate.
Calling the it “the strongest border bill the country has ever seen,” Biden called on GOP lawmakers “to show some spine to do what they know to be right.”
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“I’m calling on Congress to pass this bill so it gets to my desk immediately. But if the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something: The American people are going to know what it failed.” He said that after initially calling for a border bill, Republicans reversed themselves after Trump made it clear he did not want the issue settled before the November election.
The $118 billion border and national security package includes money to beef up border security, as well as aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. After months of negotiations in the Senate, the package was unveiled on Sunday but declared DOA by House Republican leaders and now faces mounting opposition in the Senate. Some Republicans complained that it doesn’t go far enough to limit the number of migrant crossings.
The bill sets the threshold for giving the president the emergency authority to shut down the border. “If the bill were law today, it would be qualified to be shut down right now,” Biden said.
The president also warned that he would campaign on GOP opposition in advance of the general election.
“Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends,” Biden said. “It’s time for Republicans in Congress to show a little courage, to show a little spine, to make it clear to the American people that you work for them, not for anyone else.”
After his remarks, Biden answered a couple of questions, but told reporters that he would answering questions on Thursday on ongoing negotiations over the release of hostages by Hamas, although it was unclear if that would be a formal press conference.
The president told reporters that there had been a response to the latest proposal from Hamas but “it seems to be a little over the top.”
Later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), citing opposition in the House and in his own caucus, said that “it looks to me and to most of our members that we have no real chance here to make a law.” Like Biden, he noted that the National Border Patrol Council, which endorsed Trump in 2020, backed the proposed legislation.
McConnell declined to address Trump’s opposition, but said, “Most of our members feel that we are not going to be able to make a law here, and if you are not going to be able to make a law, they are reluctant to go forward.”
He called for the Senate to “tackle the rest” of the bill, including the aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
“It is up to Senator Schumer to decide how to repackage this if we do not go on to it,” he said.
McConnell also repeated what Democrats have said: It has been Republicans who wanted the border issue to be addressed in the overall legislation.
“We started it,” he said. “Obviously with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate, our negotiators had to deal with them.”
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